Hawaii Science Writers Association Launched
If bloggers are a rare breed, science writers are an endangered species. And that's a shame, since understanding science is critical to making smart decisions on some of the biggest issues of our age: climate change, water scarcity, GMOs, healthcare (measles, anyone?)... the list goes on.
Science is on the front page almost every day, frankly, but there are fewer and fewer people paid to write about it. The days of having a dedicated, full-time staff science writer in the newsroom are long gone.
Fortunately, there are still people who love science, who love to write, and who appreciate the importance of science literacy. Nationally, there's the National Association of Science Writers. And now, there's a small group of freelance science writers who are collaborating, sharing strategies and sources, right here in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Science Writers Association was born late last year, but I only heard about it when I was invited to join. Generally, I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members, but after disclaiming that I was more a fan of science writing (blogging about science now and then), I gladly signed up.
"We’re a handful of science writers who call the Aloha State home... always on the lookout for local stories to cover and local publications to write for," the HSWA site explains.
But while the HSWA is certainly interested in strengthening and supporting local science writers, it's also a resource for the broader community. The group offers its members as sources for news and magazine stories on science issues, and even as speakers for classrooms and groups.
Perhaps most critically, the HSWA wants to help scientists share their work with wider audiences. Some of the most brilliant researchers, sadly, are not particularly good promoters.
"Members of the group write for mainstream national publications, ranging from magazines to top-tier journals to newspapers, and we all love covering local science," the group says. "We can’t guarantee a story about your work, but we’d love to talk with you about it and pitch an article about your research to our editors."
The current roster of HSWA members includes Bliss Mishler, Brittany Moya del Pino, Christie Wilcox (who I already follow at Discover magazine's "Science Sushi"), Joseph Bennington-Castro, Kirsten Carlson, Meghan Miner (an online/associate editor at Hawaii Magazine), Robin Meadows, and Sarah C.P. Williams. It looks like every one uses Twitter, so I created a HSWA Twitter List.
There was a small kickoff lunch in December, and several members attended the most recent Honolulu Science Cafe, and a larger HSWA meetup is in the works. But there is an email discussion group where members have already sought advice and shared interesting links. The group is trying to find more like-minded members., and frankly if I qualify as a "science writer," I'm certain more than a few of the people who visit this blog would also qualify.
Photo courtesy HSWA.